Why We Didn't Find Out Our Baby's Gender Before Birth

Leaving your baby's gender as a surprise can be difficult but also a lot of fun

We didn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl.

For me, being pregnant was a little bit like cotton candy dreams. Visions of baby blue and pretty pink swirled around in my head like gossamer strands of cotton candy at the fair. It was exhilarating, the excitement of it.  I savoured the sweet taste of impending motherhood on my lips like a sugary treat every time I said, “We’re pregnant!”

Of course, everyone wanted to know our future baby’s gender, but I just shrugged. A lot of folks were surprised we hadn’t bothered to find out. We had enough ultrasounds to last a lifetime, while cautiously watching a subchorionic bleed. It would have been no trouble to ask the technician to make a note in the file. We held off though. We had our reasons.

I really wanted to be surprised. I felt like half of the fun of incubating that little person was in the mystery of what it would be. I was worried that if I found out either way, I would be like, “Gah, just take it out now, what’s the point of waiting.” I figured that little tidbit of information would be a great incentive to make the hard work of labour feel less daunting. There had to be something unexpected to reward me for all the pushing and straining. I wanted to luxuriate in the excitement of finally knowing in the moment I held my new baby.

It would be a moment I dreamed of and I wanted to keep that dream alive. I daydreamed for ten glorious months about life as a mom of a boy, or what life could be like as a mom of a girl. I craved to play with each scenario in my head, examine it carefully and let my imagination take flight. I didn’t want to limit the fantasy of what life could be by knowing too soon what the outcome would be.

Fantasy gets limited enough in the digital age. Science is a wonderful thing, but it can sure suck the fun out of what were once natural mysteries. The bright splay of lava crawling down a volcano seems a bit less majestic when you break it down to a series of chemical reactions. It’s a lot less enjoyable when you explain it.

I didn’t want the science of radiology sucking the enjoyment out of that occasion for me, even if it meant we were a little less prepared.

We worked around not knowing. We had gender-neutral hued newborn things. We left the nursery pink from our old roommate’s selection, poised to redecorate if it turned out to be a boy. We wanted to take the time to get to know our little person and pick clothes based on personality instead of gender alone. It turned out we were just as prepared as we needed to be and besides, we were a bit skeptical.

Doctors are human and make mistakes. We didn’t want to find out early and buy a whole bunch of stuff and realize later we were given the wrong information. How awkward would that be? I guess you could say I have trust issues. I also didn’t want to feel disappointed if I became overly attached to one particular outcome because it had been presented as certainty. I wanted unbridled glee either way, freed from preconceived notions of what would take place.

Ultimately, we decided not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We opted to hang on just a little longer to our cotton candy dreams. We clung to the airy pink and soft blue tendrils swirling around our heads and enveloping our hearts.

The moment he was born was exhilarating and as he grew, his loving personality was as much as a surprise as his gender was at birth. My son turned out to be sugary sweet and I savoured the baby kisses I’d been waiting for since I first said, “We’re pregnant!” 

Image via Betty Crocker

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